General Advice and Red Tape for Landlords
Your property and contents should be comprehensively insured for letting. This should include insurance cover for loss of rental income which we can arrange on your behalf, but policies should also include public liability, theft and malicious damage by the tenant.
Consent for Leasehold Property
If your property is leasehold you must ensure that any letting is permitted by your lease, and that any tenancy terminates prior to the termination of your lease. Any lease condition must be noted in the tenancy agreement for the Tenant’s attention. If necessary, the written permission of your Landlord should be obtained for sub-letting.
If your property is subject to a mortgage, you must ensure that your mortgagee gives permission for the property to be let and we are made aware of any special conditions or terms required by your mortgagee. Alternately, we may be able to refer you to specialist financial advisors able to offer products designed for let properties.
Jointly Owned Property
If your property is jointly owned, you must ensure that any joint owners are party to the Tenancy Agreement or give their consent in writing for the property to be let.
All deposits for assured shorthold tenancies must be held under a Government-approved Deposit Scheme and registered within 30 days of the commencement of the tenancy. All properties should have an independent inventory conducted prior to the commencement of the tenancy and any properties that we manage, having one in place is compulsory.
Services such as electricity, gas, water, phone, TV licence and council tax are the responsibility of the Tenant unless otherwise stated.
Condition of the Property
Prospective Tenants will pay a great deal of attention to the cleanliness of the property and the condition of its gardens (if applicable). Prior to occupation, both the house and the gardens should be overhauled by outside professionals. By doing so, you will achieve the best rent for the property. We also highly recommend having the property professionally cleaned prior to tenants moving in so as to set a high standard of cleanliness and avoid any arguments when returning the deposit.
We strongly recommend that Landlords invest in maintaining and enhancing their property year on year. This will improve both the rental return and the quality of Tenant it attracts.
A property can be let fully, part or unfurnished. We can advise you as to any items which should be left or added. The Fire & Furnishings (fire safety) Regulations 1988 & 1993 require that all upholstered furnishing, loose fittings, permanent or loose covers supplied in rented properties must meet fire resistance requirements and must display the kite mark confirming it complies with the regulations.
All appliances, including central heating, should be checked and serviced prior to letting. Service contracts should be kept in force for items such as central heating and kitchen appliances. Full details should be given to us. All instruction manuals and guarantee cards should be left at the property and a copy supplied to us if managing.
Tenants are required to have one full set of keys each for all main locks and garages (if applicable). Window keys and mail-box keys should be offered to at least one tenant and we will require a full set of keys for management purposes if necessary.
Non-Resident Landlord Tax
A Non-Resident is defined by HMRC as:
- You left the UK to go abroad permanently or your absence and full-time work abroad lasts at least the whole tax year;
- Your visits to the UK are less than 183 days in a tax year and average less than 91 days a tax year over a maximum of four consecutive years
If you do not register for Non-Resident Landlord tax exemption, we have to take 20% tax from the gross rent (the income minus allowable expenses) and pay you the net amount remaining. We then send the tax to HMRC. We are audited comprehensively and have to be able to prove to HMRC that we have followed the letter of the law in all cases. So of course it makes sense to fill out the NRL 1 form (NRL 2 for companies and NRL 3 for trustees) and gain exemption from HMRC. This means we can pay all your rent direct without removing tax.
As the Landlord’s Agent we will take every care in the management of your property, and the information we provide. However, we are not legal or financial experts. If you have any queries of a legal or financial nature, you should consult your solicitor or accountant.
There is a fair amount of red tape in the letting industry.
Most of the legislation protects the tenants and is ultimately a good idea.
We will do it all for you if you become a customer.
The key issues are:
Gas Safety – Compulsory
As a landlord you are legally responsible for the safety of your tenants in relation to gas safety.
By law you must:
- Maintain and repair any gas appliances, fittings, pipe work and flues provided at the property in safe condition.
- Ensure an annual gas safety check is carried out by a registered Gas Safe engineer qualified to carry out work on gas appliances at the property.
- Your tenant must be given a valid copy of the gas safety record before they move into the property and annually thereafter, retaining copies for at least 2 years.
Flues In Voids – Compulsory Where Relevant
From January 2013 Gas Safety inspections must include visual inspections of gas flues every 1.5 metres or at bends in the flue. To comply, hatches will have to be fitted to enable the engineer to inspect the flues.
A gas flue is the flue/pipe which takes the waste from a gas boiler to the outside. If the flue has a break in it or your boiler is not operating correctly, carbon monoxide could enter the property.
If the engineer cannot access the flue it will fail the gas safety inspection and you will be responsible for any eventual risk which could result in a serious incident. The penalties for injury or death are a fine and/or imprisonment.
Flues can be concealed. In blocks of flats the flues can pass through flats above before eventually venting to the outside.
You do not have a flue in a void if the boiler is fitted to an external wall and directly vented out to the outside. You would be clearly able to see a grille with a vent immediately on the outside of the building. If you are not sure if you have a flue in a void we strongly recommend that a qualified Gas Safe engineer inspects your property.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – Compulsory
Since 2008 all landlords must have a valid EPC for their property available for any applicant or tenant viewing a property.
The certificate is valid for 10 years. It scores a property on energy efficiency from ‘A’ (most efficient) to ‘G’ (least efficient). It outlines ideas to improve performance. An EPC can only be carried out by a certified Domestic Energy Assessor. It will also show a building’s environmental impact by indicating its carbon dioxide emissions.
EPCs provide recommendations for reducing the amount of energy your tenants will use and lists:
- Suggested improved improvements, like fitting loft insulation.
- Possible cost savings per year, if the improvements are made.
- How the recommendations would change the energy efficiency rating of the property.
Since 1 April 2020, landlords can no longer let or continue to let properties covered by the MEES Regulations (The Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard) if they have an EPC rating below E, unless they have a valid exemption in place.
If you are currently planning to let a property with an EPC rating of F or G, you need to improve the property’s rating to E, or register an exemption, before you enter into a new tenancy.
If you are currently letting a property with an EPC rating of F or G, and you haven’t already taken action, you must improve the property’s rating to E immediately, or register an exemption.
If your property is currently empty, and you are not planning to let it, you don’t need to take any action to improve its rating until you decide to let it again.
Click HERE to view the latest guidance documents.
Electrical Safety – Compulsory
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations 2020 are a welcome piece of legislation that will help to clarify the definition of 'safe' and mean that all landlords will now be required to do what good landlords already do: to ensure that the electrics in their rental property are not dangerous.
New or renewed tenancies must have a satisfactory Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) before they can legally start. The Regulations mean that landlords are required to undertake an EICR in accordance with the 18th edition of the 'Wiring Regulations' (British Standard 7671), where the electrical installations are inspected and tested by a competent person (holding relevant certifications, qualifications and insurance). Landlords must provide a copy of the report to their tenants and they are also obliged to carry out any investigative or remedial works indicated in the report. Furthermore, they should also provide the certificate to an applicant and the local authority, if requested.
The Inspection should:
- Reveal if any of your electrical circuits in equipment are overloaded
- Find any potential electrical shock risks and fire hazards in your electrical installation
- Identify any defective electrical work
- Highlight any lack of earthing or bonding and work that does not meet the National Standard
The electrician will score recommendations with a Code 1 - 4, with scores 1 and 2 being serious and urgently requiring remedial work.
- Code 1 - Where a real and immediate danger is observed that puts the safety of those using the installation at risk.
- Code 2 - Indicates electrical work is required to remove potential danger.
Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors – Compulsory Where Relevant
During any period beginning on or after 1st October 2015 while the premises are occupied under a tenancy, (or licence) the landlord must ensure that a smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. A living room will include a lounge, dining room and kitchen as well as a bathroom or toilet. It also includes a hall or landing. This means that a smoke alarm must be provided in working order on each storey. As regards individual flats located on one floor then there will have to be at least one alarm within the flat itself or alternatively provided outside the flat on the same floor of the building, i.e. a communal alarm.
From the 1st October 2015 regulations require smoke alarms to be installed in rented residential accommodation and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with a solid fuel appliance. Changes are also made to the licence requirements in relation to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), such as shared houses and bedsits which require a licence and also in relation to properties which are subject to selective licensing. The Regulations apply both to houses and flats. Failure to comply can lead to a penalty being imposed of up to £5,000.